"Smoke & Roses" in Florida's Charlotte Harbor
Luxury Sailing's Dreamland
By Larry Larsen
It's a long way from their original home in often-frigid South Dakota to Southwest Florida, but that didn't deter Dan and Agnes Long from achieving
their dream of someday owning a sailing charter company in warmer climes. They set out toward accomplishing that goal by taking a week-long sailing course in Fort Lauderdale.
"The course was very tough, but after spending that time and money, we
both realized that we really did want to do this." Agnes told us as we quietly cruised the beautiful Charlotte Harbor with them on a recent adventure trip.
After that first course, the Longs traveled to Tortola in the British Virgin
Islands to purchase the boat of their dreams, according to the charter operators. It was a spacious, double-hull 47-foot catamaran with four
comfortable staterooms, each with its own head, a queen bed and plenty of cabin space. Three of the staterooms were setup for guests and the fourth is used by Dan and Agnes.
"When we selected this catamaran it was imperative that Dan who is six feet,
five inches tall would be able to stand up and also sleep comfortably," says Agnes. "All the staterooms and the salon are air conditioned, and the large
Bimini shaded cockpit offers plenty of comfortable seating and easy access to the broad aft swim platform. We have a modern galley up design inside and a large trampoline at the bow where
guests can relax and ponder the social behavior of the dolphin shadowing the hulls."
For eight years, the couple leased it to charter companies
in the British Virgin Islands which helped to offset the cost of ownership. They also spent several weeks aboard the catamaran on their own, honing their sailing skills.
Eventually, Dan and Agnes both obtained their captain's license, a requirement when scheduling overnight sailing trips, and in 2013 began their chartering business in Florida
. In addition to their captain's licenses, they both have ASA Sailing Certifications and are certified in coastal navigation. Dan is a PADI Dive Master and Agnes is an Advanced Open
Water Diver and ServSafe Certified.
"Sailing the catamaran 1,200 miles from the British Virgin Islands to Florida was a wonderful experience," smiles
Agnes. "We were able to take our time and really enjoy the water and owning such a beautiful vessel. We
eventually settled in Port Charlotte, the second largest bay in Florida, and officially opened up the "sails" of our Smoke & Roses
Why the name? "Dan is a retired firefighter and I had a
floral business in South Dakota," explains Agnes. "It just made sense to christen the cat with a unique name based on our personal signature along this adventure."
On our own half day charter, we experienced the smooth
comfort of this beautiful catamaran, which accommodates a maximum of six people. We departed from their home base on a residential canal off Charlotte Harbor and were
soon under wind power, enjoying the serenity of the Harbor. Like many boaters do in that area on a leisurely day on the water, we sailed over to the Captain's Table
Restaurant docks and had a scrumptious lunch. It was a perfect ending to a beautiful morning sail.
Smoke & Roses is reportedly the largest private sailing catamaran in
Southwest Florida, offering cruises on Charlotte Harbor and along the Gulf beaches from Tampa to the Florida Keys and out to the Dry
Tortugas. Full day cruises run about $125 per person and include beverages and snacks (bring your own booze). Snorkeling, kayaking
and beachcombing are options. Based on six people, two to 4-day excursion daily rates start at $150 per person and 5 to 7 day live-aboard voyages are $150 per person per day.
For more information on the various charter sailing options and/or
reservations, visit their website at www.smokeandroses.com or phone (605) 366-7673. Sailing the glistening harbor or Gulf beaches
in southwest Florida early in the day or as the Sun sets and viewing the bottlenose dolphins, osprey and eagles easily becomes something for all of us to dream about!